By Bill Parry
Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law two bills Friday that dramatically reduce New York City’s cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportations. The new laws, which take effect in 30 days, require immigration officials to present a judicial warrant before the city can hold an immigrant in custody, except in instances where there is a public safety concern.
“Mass deportation has not only pulled apart thousands of New York City families, it has also undermined public safety in our communities and imposed disproportionate penalties on immigrant parents and spouses who these families depend on for emotional and financial support,” de Blasio said. “Our city is not served when New Yorkers with strong ties in the community are afraid to engage with law enforcement because they fear deportation.”
The two bills also end the presence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Rikers Island and all other city facilities. “Today, we send another message to Washington that the time to act has come to provide relief to so many individuals who contribute to our nation’s growth,” de Blasio said.
Until now, the city held individuals, including some with minor criminal records, in detention upon receipt of a “detainer” request by ICE officials. It is estimated that with the judicial warrant requirement, the new policy could bring the percentage of detainers to virtually zero and would prevent from 2,000 to 3,000 New Yorkers per year from being held in city custody for the purpose of helping ICE place them in detention and deportation proceedings.
The mayor held his signing ceremony on the steps of Our Lady of Sorrows Church at 104-11 37th Ave. in Corona, which serves the largest immigrant community in the city, according to de Blasio.
“That he did the signing here sends a clear message that this mayor stands with the immigrant community, and that’s quite a thrill,” City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) said. “These two bills are a progressive step towards repairing the dysfunctional national immigration system and will protect the rights of immigrants. This is reverberating throughout this neighborhood, that Corona finally has a light shined on it for the right reason.”
The mayor repeated several times that the new policy does not extend to those who have been convicted of violent or serious felonies or those whose names appears on terrorist watch lists.
“This community will be heavily impacted in a positive way,” City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said. “I can’t tell you how many visitors to my office have had their families torn apart with ICE crackdowns. This sends a message to the federal government that New York City will protect its people. We have a moral obligation to act on the local level to save our families and friends from deportation.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4538.